Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and HA-LO Industries (NYSE: HMK) are joining forces to form a joint venture that will market and sell branded merchandise for all of Ford Motor Company’s global vehicle brands.
The new company will serve as the merchandising arm for all Ford vehicle brands globally. The creation of this business will assign professional merchandising executives to work with vehicle brand managers to identify brand-enhancing products tailored to unique brand image needs. These products will then be incorporated into new promotional and retail merchandising programs, available to consumers in partnership with dealers.
Ford will be the first client for this new enterprise, and other multinational businesses are expected to use the new company’s expertise in merchandising and licensing in the future.
The new venture also will capitalize on HA-LO’s Internet capability and will now use the Internet to monitor and expand Ford’s current network of over 400 licensees who produce over 12,500 products. HA-LO’s proprietary technology redefines the management of global brands through Internet-based tools, allowing for the dynamic expansion of brand image and real-time creation of branded merchandise.
“This is another step in our quest to build strong, unique global brands,” said James C. Schroer, Ford Motor Company vice president of Global Marketing. “As Harley Davidson has shown, there’s a brand experience that exists beyond just the enjoyment of the product itself. It isn’t just about owning a motorcycle, it’s about an entire experience. That same sort of feeling exists with our Ford Mustang, Ford F-Series pickup truck and Jaguar owners. We are seeking to spread that same product zeal to all of our brands. HA-LO is the right partner to help us leverage and enhance our brands through image- defining products.”
Ford Motor Company will be the majority partner in the new company with both companies represented on the board. Linden Nelson, vice chairman of HA- LO has been named CEO of the new company. HA-LO will provide key operational, systems and inventory fulfillment support to the organization. HA-LO also will provide product sourcing and merchandising services to the new venture. Ford will continue to maintain control over licensing.
“This joint venture with Ford breaks new ground in our industry,” said Linden Nelson. “Ford is validating our global leadership position, affirming our technology superiority, and enabling us to extend our strength by becoming a more integral part of the branded merchandise programs of our existing customers.”
HA-LO Industries, a brand marketing organization, is the world’s leading distributor of promotional products, as well as a premier provider of brand marketing services through Upshot, its number-one ranked brand marketing agency. HA-LO’s Internet transformation is core to its growth of both its promotional products and marketing services divisions.
HA-LO’s recent acquisition of Starbelly.com, a business-to-business Internet-based marketer of customer branded merchandise, will help the new venture leverage the Internet. HA-LO has 55 offices in 11 countries including significant operations in Detroit, Toronto, Belgium, Hong Kong and soon South America.